How should you catalog your family photos?

Will you be working with hard copy or digital photos? That's the first question you need to answer. See cool camera stuff pictures to learn more.

There are few keepsakes held as dear as photographs. Pictures of family, friends, vacation spots and pets are likely some of the most important items you own. That's why it's vital that you keep them not only safe, but organized in an easy to access manner.

First, determine whether the majority of your photos are printed or digital. Working with hard copies of photos is a lot different than organizing digital images.

One of the best ways to organize actual photos is with scrapbooks or photo albums. Avoid self-stick photo pages or standard white glue. They'll damage your photos over time. Instead, use scrapbooking glue or plastic or paper photo corners to hold your photos.

Once you've mounted your photos, you can begin labeling them. Label stickers are your best bet. Writing on the back of the photo can damage it. You can also label the spine of the book with the dates of the pictures, the place where the pictures were taken or the event the photos show. Make sure the titles are distinct so when, years later, you're looking for a particular image you can remember where it is with only a little searching.

If you've moved past hard copies of photos, read on for some tips on organizing your digital family pictures.

Cataloging Your Digital Photos

Computer software can allow you to access your photos quickly and easily.
Computer software can allow you to access your photos quickly and easily.

The first step in cataloging your digital images is to make sure you're working with only the photos that you want to keep. One of the best things about a digital camera is that you're free to take as many shots as you want without having to worry about the cost of developing film. While you're taking photos at your child's birthday party, for example, you can shoot as many photos as your memory card will hold and sort them out later. What that means, though, is that you'll have a large number of photos that might not be the best quality or are duplicates of other pictures. When you've put all your photos on your computer or external hard drive, it's time to sort through them and get rid of the photos you don't want.

Once you have the shots you want you can begin naming them. Use names that are as specific as possible so you can find the photo you want right away. Most online photo service like Photobucket, Shutterfly or Flickr will also allow you to add keywords to your photos. Keywords are simple, often one-word descriptions associated with particular shots. So, if there is a picture of you with your grandfather, you would label the file with the "grandpa" keyword. That way, when you're searching for photos of your grandfather you can simply do a search for all files with "grandpa" as a keyword. Then, presto, all those photos would appear.

After you've named your photos and applied keywords, it's time to begin grouping the images by theme. Consider using date ranges or grouping by event. The last step, and perhaps the most fun, is to share your photos with your friends and family. There are several ways to go about getting your photos out there. You can burn your albums to a disk or upload your photos to an online album or a social networking site and invite your friends to view your pictures.

Remember, great pictures are only great when you're able to find and share them.


  • Hewlett-Packard. "Tips for organizing your digital photos." 2010. (Dec. 17, 2010.)
  • National Archives. "Caring for Your Family Archives." 2010. (Dec. 17, 2010.)